Attacks on opposition election campaigners and their arrest continued on Wednesday with ruling Bangladesh Awami League and opposition alliance Jatiya Oikya Front formally launching electioneering for the January 30 national elections.
The electioneering by the candidates began on Monday with allocation of electoral symbols amid festivity and fear of violence and intimidation.
On the third day, police arrested Bangladesh Nationalist Party organising secretary Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu and picked up BNP candidate for Dhaka-1 Khondoker Abu Ashfaq from his election campaign at Dohar.
Chief election commissioner KM Nurul Huda, meanwhile, on Wednesday said that the commission was embarrassed over Tuesday’s attack on BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir’s motorcade in Thakurgaon.
A BNP delegation met the CEC and inspector general of police at their offices demanding that attacks on and arrest of BNP leaders and activists be stopped and they be allowed to campaign smoothly.
AL general secretary Obaidul Quader on Wednesday blamed BNP leaders and activists for confrontations during the election campaigns.
While inaugurating a publicity progamme of the Awami League at Dhanmandi 3, political office of the party president Sheikh Hasina, Quqder said that in Noakhali, an AL activist was killed brutally by the BNP activists and they also killed one of party’s cultural activists in Faridpur.
‘I have seen in Noakhali that the BNP activists were carrying sticks and cocktails in their hands when attending the elation campaigns of their party,’ Quader said.
Reports received from several districts said that election camps, especially of opposition candidates, were attacked and vandalized and their activists were barred from hanging their posters while police had been raiding their houses.
BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi claimed that a total of 2,171 leaders and activists of BNP and its allies were arrested across the country since announcement of the election schedule on November 8.
Of them, 181 were arrested after allocation of electoral symbols on December 10, he said.
The BNP leader alleged that there was no atmosphere for election in the country.
BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed at a news briefing at the party’s central office on Wednesday expressed doubt if the election would be held at all, saying he did not see such election atmosphere during his long political career.
CEC KM Nurul Huda, addressing a briefing for judicial magistrates at Nirbachon Bhaban in the capital on Wednesday, said the attack on BNP secretary general Fakhrul Islam Alamgir’s motorcade was ‘unexpected’ and ‘embarrassing for the commission’.
He said that the commission was also shocked over killing of a political activist in Noakhali.
He asked the political parties and its activists to carry out their campaigns with respect for each other and following electoral code of conduct.
A BNP delegation, led by its vice-chairman Selima Rahman, after meeting with the CEC on Wednesday around noon, said that the EC apparently was not doing anything about the attacks on BNP election campaigns as it was helplessness.
She said that they thought that the CEC was ‘helpless and really embarrassed’ because he could do nothing.
She said that the December 30 general election would be acceptable if the commission took proper action against people involved in attack on BNP’s polls campaigns.
Selima alleged that the campaigns of other BNP leaders had also been attacked by AL and Juba League activists, with the help of law enforcers.
She alleged that the ruling Awami League wanted to stop BNP from campaigning because they wanted to turn it into another one-sided election.
Later, the team met IGP Mohammad Javed Patwary at police headquarters in Dhaka in the afternoon.
After the meeting, Selima told the waiting reporters that the IGP assured them of cooperation.
She alleged that BNP leaders and activists, after beginning the electioneering, had been facing attacks and obstructions across the country and that they were being arrested, even at jail gates immediately after release on bail.
BNP senior joint secretary general Rizvi alleged that police on early Wednesday raided the house of BNP’s senior vice-president Kafil Uddin of ward 40 under Vatara Police Station in Dhaka as Kafil, being scared, hid on the roof top and, at one stage, police found him, and pushed him from the roof top after beating.
As a result, Kafil died on the spot, he alleged.
Vatara Police Station officer-in-charge SM Quamruzzaman, however, claimed that they were not aware about any such incident.
BNP candidate for Dhaka 13 Abdus Salam on Wednesday alleged that the party’s Mohammadpur thana unit president Osman Gani Shahjahan was picked by law enforcers after half an hour of their meeting with the Election Commission secretary.
He alleged that plainclothes picked up Shajan from near IDB Bhaban, a walking distance from the Election Commission, about 2:00pm though he was on bail in all the cases filed against him.
In Dhaka, detective branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police arrested BNP organising secretary Ruhul Kuddus Talukder Dulu from his Gulshan residence Wednesday morning and produced him before a court in the afternoon showing him arrested in a case lodged in 2015 with Sher-e-Banglanagar police.
Metroploitan magistrate Abu Sufian ordered him to be sent to jail and set December 23 for hearing his bail plea.
Though Dulu was nominated by BNP to vie in the election, his nomination papers were rejected.
Besides, cops of different police stations in Dhaka arrested at least 34 BNP leaders and activists Tuesday night and Wednesday morning and produced them before different metropolitan magistrate courts showing them arrested in different pending cases.
Of the arrested, different courts allowed police plea for remand for different terms to interrogate 20 of them in police custody, New Age court correspondent reported.
At Dohar in Dhaka, BNP candidate for Dhaka-1 constituency Khandker Abu Ashfaq was picked up by police while he was conducting election campaign at Joypara Bazar under Dohar around 5:00pm, party insiders said.
Md Sazzad Hossain, officer-in-charge of Dohar Police Station, however, claimed that they took Ashfaq to the police station for his own ‘security’ and he was allowed to leave the police station after half an hour.
The campaign convoy of BNP’s Dhaka-9 candidate Afroza Abbas reportedly came under attack twice at Kamalapur and Madartek in Dhaka allegedly by ruling party activists on Wednesday, which left at least five BNP activists injured.
A group of ruling party activists with rods and sticks attacked the motorcade of Afroza Abbas at Madartek around 12:00pm, her husband Mirza Abbas, who is also a BNP candidate for Dhaka-8, told New Age.
He said the AL activists damaged Afroza’s vehicles and assaulted and hacked her driver Abdur Rashid.
Earlier, the AL men attacked Afroza Abbas and her followers near Kamalapur Boys’ High School around 10:00am when they were carrying out election campaign there.
New Age staff correspondent in Chattogram reported that an electioneering rally of BNP candidate for Chattogram 11 Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury came under attack by AL activists armed with sticks on Wednesday at the city’s Madarbari area that left at least five BNP men injured, the BNP candidate alleged.
Sadarghat police OC Md Nezam Uddin said that none filed any complaint.
New Age correspondent in Gazipur reported that the electioneering rally of BNP candidate Chowdhury Tanvir Ahmed Siddiq for Gazipur-1 came under attack allegedly by Juba League men at Safipur Bazar of Kaliakoir on Wednesday about 11:00am.
In Faridpur, BNP candidate for Faridpur-2 Shama Obaid Islam alleged that at least 25 of her activists were picked up from different election camps of Nagarkanda upazila Wednesday evening.
Nagarkanda police officer-in-charge Mizanur Rahman, however, claimed that no BNP activist was arrested on Wednesday.
In Sirajganj, at least 10 BNP activists were injured and the car of BNP candidate Abdul Mannan Talukder was vandalised in an attack allegedly by AL activists at village Kusumbi under Tarash immediately after the BNP leader ended a street rally there Wednesday afternoon, said Tarash BNP general secretary Sardar Ashraf Ali.
Tarash police officer-in-charge Mostafizur Rahman claimed that the situation was under control but they did not notice any vandalism of car.
Our Correspondent in Satkhira reported that police arrested 55 people, mostly BNP-Jamaat men, from different places of the district.
In a press conference at Satkhira Press Club in the district town, Satkhira 3 BNP candidate Shahidul Alam alleged that his activists are now being arrested and attacked at places while the ruling party men had been barring his activists even to hang posters.
New Age correspondent in Noakhali, quoting police, reported that police arrested six BNP men from different areas of Sadar and Subarnachar upazilas on Wednesday in connection with the Tuesday’s murder of a Juba League leader, Mohammad Hanif, in Eojbalia union in a pre-election clash between AL and BNP activists.
The arrested are president of Suborno Char upazila Juba Dal unit NizamUddin Faruk, organising secretary Ibrahim Khalil, Mohammad Ali, president of ward 9 Juba Dal in Eojbalia union, union BNP president Shahjahan Kamal and his two brothers Nasir Uddin, Mohiuddin and BNP activist Nuruzzaman, said Md Anwar Hossain, officer-in-charge of Sudharam Model Police Station.
No case was lodged until Wednesday evening, he said.
None was arrested and no case was lodged in connection with the Tuesday’s attack on BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir’s motorcade at Thakurgaon, New Age correspondent in Thakurgaon reported, quoting police.
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